Being neutrally rejected by the ones you photograph

Updated on May 28, 2017 in Photography
7 on May 25, 2017

Being a street photographer I often get positive or negative responses from the ones I photograph. It can be either a smile, a nod, a friendly talk, or arguing, cursing, asking me to delete the image I took. I can understand both of these ways to react. But sometimes people behave like this: 

It feels like ignorance, a person notices that you are photographing but coldly rejects it. I totally understand that the person has the right to do so but I don’t understand why it happens with no emotions, so coldly. Once again, the issue is not because the person is not happy about being photographed, but because the photograph is being greeted so emotionless 🙂

I cannot understand why would people react like this, and how should I as a photographer respond. I think it is important to discuss this issue because this attitude is discouraging, and it often prevents me from “seeing photographs” around me for quite some time. 

Please let me know what you think, have you faced this issue and what do you do in case you have?

 
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1 on May 25, 2017

I don’t think anyone has the right to demand a photo of someone else. If they spot us as we photograph them in the street, we rely on their grace. Sometimes it is generously given, other times withheld. Why? Some people are gracious, some are not. Some think you are taking something away from them, others may fear being made to look silly. Still others think you should not have something for nothing – I once had a street musician shout at me, demanding payment. Perhaps rather mischievously, I just waited until he was mid song and couldn’t do anything about it (not recommending it – he might have friends who don’t have their hands full of guitar!). If we are noticed, then a smile and a friendly nod can go a long way – if not, just move on (unless you are keen on picturing grumpy people!).

on May 25, 2017

I never said that we could demand such a thing! 🙂 I agree with the rest of your comment, thanks for your reply! By the way, about this situation with a street musician, I was photographing a guitarist in Paris, he saw it mid-song and stopped his performance demanding that I have to pay him

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0 on May 25, 2017

I encounter this too from time to time. I think your problem is that you let yourself get discouraged by it. When I experience something like that, I just move on, it doesn’t bother me. I once got seriously discouraged when I got sort of mugged while shooting and I got over it, admittedly that took a few weeks. When shooting strangers without their permissions you have to expect all sort of reactions. Frankly, I’m more surprised about what you can get away with and I enjoy the times when someone is friendly to me.

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1 on May 25, 2017

Actually I quite like the sequence of ‘lady with umbrella shot’. It tells a story, with just a slight turn of the wrist the subject changes from known to unknown.

on May 25, 2017

Thank you! 🙂 

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0 on May 25, 2017

Areg, for some of us, emotional reactions come naturally, for others they are hard work. I suggest that this woman is one of the latter. She doesn’t want her picture taken so she moves to prevent it without any fuss or dirty looks or sharp words. I’m like this person – I find it an effort getting emotional worked up about small things like this and in this situation I would probably do likewise. Emotionally, we are all different.

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0 on May 28, 2017

Times change, and so do social attitudes. This is the 20-teens, not the nineteen forties.

Many people now consider street photographers to be voyeurs (a prying observer who is usually seeking the sordid or the scandalous). They see many street-photos of the elderly, the infirm and the indigent, that confirms their feelings.

Eric Kim has the right idea. Engaging with people, and shoot pre-approved street portraits.

 

 
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